As most of you know, on May 8 voters will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the state constitution that will make marriage between a man and a woman “the only legal union” recognized by our laws. This amendment is grounded in hate, exclusion and discrimination, and will enshrine second class citizenship for gays and lesbians in our state constitution. Ironically, it was only 40 years ago that the prohibition on interracial marriage was removed from that document, and even then only as a result of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that recognized such vile provisions violated the federal constitution.
This amendment will hurt residents all across our state, but it will have some severe and particular harms here in Orange County, where the County Commission currently provides the full range of employee benefits to domestic partners and their families (as do the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill). If the amendment passes, it will immediately strip from these citizens tangible and vital benefits upon which they depend and, perhaps most importantly, will violate our most cherished and fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution, the equal protection of law.
I refuse to let that happen. If I’m elected county commissioner, I’m required to take an oath that I will uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the constitution and the laws of North Carolina “not inconsistent therewith.” This amendment is an attack on our community and our values, and is fundamentally inconsistent with the federal constitution’s promise of equal protection of law. We cannot sit idly by or feel sorry for ourselves however. I will insist that the commissioners, in accordance with our oath, continue to pay those benefits and will work to get every other local government that also provides these benefits to do the same.